BYU hoping its players-only meeting during bye week can help end losing streak

Kristin Murphy,

Linebacker Fred Warner answers interview questions during BYU Football Media Day at BYU Broadcasting in Provo on Friday, June 23, 2017.

BYU (1-3) at Utah State (2-2)

Friday, 6 p.m. MDT Maverick Stadium TV: CBSSN

Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

PROVO — In the locker room following BYU’s crushing 40-6 loss to Wisconsin on Sept. 16, frustration gripped senior linebacker Fred Warner.

“I had this awful taste in my mouth after that game,” the team captain recalled.

With a bye coming up, Warner knew something needed to be done. So he contacted director of football operations Russell Tialavea and asked him to help him organize a players-only meeting.

That meeting took place last Monday night, two days after the setback to the Badgers, at LaVell Edwards Stadium — an impromptu, football-centric Family Home Evening of sorts — where players took turns standing up and discussing what has led to a dismal 1-3 start to the season and how they could go about turning things around.

“We haven’t been playing the way we should. We need to get on track on what we need to do every week and every day in order to play the football I know we’re capable of,” Warner said. “We really needed that because I wasn’t going to continue to go every week without saying anything and having a season where we just don’t live up to expectations like I want us to.”

Warner didn’t hold back while addressing his teammates.

“I wanted it to be an open thing. I wanted anyone to say what they wanted. In the moment, I showed my emotion. I love this game so much, I love this team so much,” he said. “They knew the intensity I was bringing and the sense of urgency that I expect out of all of us. Other guys expect the same thing. You’ll see a different team this week.”

The Cougars are hoping that “different team” will garner a different result when they visit Utah State Friday (6 p.m., MDT, CBSSN). BYU, which has suffered three consecutive losses, hasn’t won a game since beating FCS opponent Portland State one month ago.

Coach Kalani Sitake was glad to see his players take ownership of the program in that way.

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